On the Grand Finale of "Dancing With the Stars," it's the 4th Quarter, the Bases are Loaded, and it's the Last Dance …

Tonight marked the end of Season 11 of Dancing With the Stars, and as usual, the show went out in classic mirror-ball glitz and glitter fashion, featuring a 2-night, two part dancing extravaganza. Would Bristol Palin win and shock Americans everywhere? Would Kyle Massey, who said of the final show “it’s the 4th quarter; the bases are loaded …”, take the trophy? Or would Jennifer Grey come out on top and steal the prize? Tom Bergeron expressed his feelings on the voting controvery with his usual humor, by saying: “If you don’t vote, then don’t complain …and please, don’t shoot your TV.” I’m going to miss you Tom.

There were a lot of “lasts” in this evening’s fun, yet emotional showdown. This is the last time  this season that I can share my special relationship with the delightfully smart and funny host Tom Bergeron. The last time he will comment on this review, or retweet it on Twitter. The last time we will hear that annoying, yet catchy DWTS theme-song. The last time we will hear Bristol Palin introduced as a “Teen Activist for Pregnancy Prevention” and try not to giggle. The last time judge Bruno Tonioli will stand up and flail his arms all about in an enthusiastic fury, practically knocking over Len Goodman. The last bizarre, too sexual comment to a contestant from horny judge Carrie Anne Inaba. The last poop yogurt bathroom break during commercials for Jamie Lee Curtis. The last time Brooke Burke will ask the contestants: “How does that feel?” after their scores. And finally … tonight marks the last time I can mock all of these things on the show with love and affection. Well, at least until next season begins.

Night one of the 2-part finale featured two dances for each of the three couples remaining. First up was “The Redemption Dance” – this is where each pair got to choose the dance that they felt they performed or scored weakest on the first time around, and re-invent and improve it. The second round was the now famous, and, for most people, favorite part of the season – “The Freestyle Dance”. This is where the pairs do whatever they want; any music, any style, anything goes. This dance is usually the highlight of the season for most couples, and expectations are high. Let’s break it down one last time…

1. Kyle / Lacey:

Redemption Dance: After some help from judge and dance expert Len Goodman during rehearsals, Kyle improved his Foxtrot greatly, and the result was excellent. Scores: 9/9/9

Freestyle Dance: They chose the song “Tootsie Roll”, and danced a BLAST of a hip-hop, street-style type dance; filled with fun lifts, breakdancing, and floorspins. Costumes were yellow and colorful, and Kyle looked like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air in his bright yellow attire and backwards hat. Despite Len’s unintentionally hilarious comment of “I’m not a great lover of the boogaloo dancing” (WHAT???), this might have been my all-time favorite routine by them. It just totally showed off who they are and Kyle’s fun spirit. This kid has totally grown on me, and I still don’t know who the hell he is. Loved, loved, loved it. Scores: 10/9/10

2. Bristol / Mark:

Redemption Dance: This pair chose to re-do their Jive number, minus the monkey suits this time around. It was a vast improvement from the first time they did it, and Bristol for once actually had expression on her face and looked like she was having fun. Loved their costumes and the light, fun choreography. Although I think Carrie Anne’s comment of “you never cease to amaze me!” was a bit over the top, this was a huge improvement on Bristol’s part. Bruno’s help during rehearsals seemed to really do the job. Scores: 9/9/9

Freestyle Dance: Mark chose the fantastic number “He Had it Comin” from the Broadway Show Chicago. Bristol said during rehearsal footage that she had never heard of the song, nor the show; and most shocking of all, that she has never been to a broadway show. Whaaaaattt??? Girl, you need to get out of Alaska more often and go see some theatre! Anyway, once I got over that bit of information, I was able to enjoy Bristol and Mark’s animated and theatrical rendition of this classic modern song. In my mind, this was definately Bristol’s strongest dance of the season, and she actually got into the character and did something I’ve yet to see her do … she acted. I actually thought the judges scores were a little bit too low this time around for this performance. I think she deserved all nines here. However, I am willing to overlook this, seeing as how she really shouldn’t have made it this far in the first place; and taking into account all of the too-high scores for Bristol dances in the past. Scores: 8/9/8

3. Jen / Derek:

Redemption Dance: Their Pasa Doble was simply amazing. This was redemption at it’s finest. Len Goodman stood up for them and clapped, something he does not do often; and Bruno exclaimed weirdly: “From dusk til dawn, I don’t want this night ever to end!!!” Neither do I Bruno … neither do I. Scores: 10/10/10

Freestyle Dance: For their freestyle, Jen and Derek chose the song “Mashed Potato”, which is, of course, from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Another awesome performance. Seriously, this woman just sparkles with joy and wonderfulness in every step. Something about her just makes me want her to do well. This dance was filled with tremendous energy and quickness, including some of the classic moves from the film Jen is most known for. When asked by Brooke why she didn’t choose the title track from the film “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”, Grey said that song was always for her and Patrick, and she wanted to keep it that way. After getting over my initial disappointment of not seeing her dance to that song,  I can totally respect her reasons for not wanting to. Scores: 10/10/10

The second night of DWTS finale began with Tom Bergeron narrating a short video montage about the remaining 3 finalists; Kyle Massey, Bristol Palin, and Jennifer Grey. Tommy B. then attempted to explain the voting process and how it all works with judges votes combined with audience votes and yadda yadda yadda … and everyone on that stage, including him, looked completely and utterly baffled by the explanation.

After that, the show brought back the past contestants that had been voted off and featured them in various performances. Some of the most memorable included:

“The Hoff” returning in a ridiculous Baywatch style dance, complete with girls clad in bikinis, surfboards, and Hasselhoff himself singing …or warbling… through a cheesy, pretty horrific number. The best way to describe this performance is “delightfully painful.”

Kurt Warner vs. Rick Fox in a Rocky themed “Eye of The Tiger” showdown dance number, if you can call what these two do dancing. Honestly, it looked more like a competition for which one is the biggest DORK on the dance floor. The cheese factor was intensely high for this routine.

Margaret Cho and Florence Henderson danced together in a “Copa Cabana” number, which was very funny and extremely silly.

Mike “The Pointless Douchebag” Sorentino (AKA “The Situation”) in a really horrible routine to the song “I’m Too Sexy”, in which he had his stupid shirt off the entire time and basically walked around groping and touching different female dancers. The whole thing was simply a lame excuse to show him with his dumb Abs, and, well … I felt embarassed for everyone involved in this ridiculous trainwreck of nothingness.

Brandy and Maksim recreated their last dance together, which, for some reason, did not seem as impressive to me as the first time around. I am not sure why really.

The 3 finalists then danced two more numbers, which were scored only by the judges, not the audience. In the first round, they each chose their favorite routine from the season and then danced it again. The judges then put them in order from best ,2nd best, 3rd best. The results for this round were: 1. Jen and Derek 2. Kyle and Lacey 3. Bristol and Mark.

The last and final dance was called the “Instant Cha-cha,” and it was one last chance to wow the judges (although I am STILL convinced that the judges scores don’t matter one iota when it comes to the voting, but, whatever…) and improve their overall scores. Each pair was given only about 20 minutes to rehearse for this combined number, and then they would all dance the Cha-cha to the same song; for 60 seconds each.

I have to say that last Cha-cha where we saw all three pairs dancing one last time together on the dance floor, and then high-fiving and hugging each other in a big group immediately afterward, was, for me, the best part of the show’s finale. After all of the controversial voting and the backstage drama and the non-reality of reality tv, THIS is what the show is really about – good old-fashioned entertainment. This show is entertaining and heartwarming – plain and simple. And when the top 3 performers and their pro-dance partners are all in a group backstage hugging and wishing one another well, that is the true spirit of this show. Something about spending 47 hours a day dancing and then dancing some more … it creates a bond for life. Almost every person who has done this show has described it as “life-changing”; and its popularity knows no bounds. And in the end … justice WAS served; because the best dancer won after all.

In 3rd place was Bristol Palin, leaving Kyle Massey and Jennifer Grey as the top 2 finalists in the last few minutes of the show.

Finally, with .0003 seconds left in the show, the announcement was made. The NEW Dancing With the Stars Season 11 Champion is ………


Sing it with me everyone … Now I’ve Had the Time of My life ….and I owe it all to you…….

Congratulations Jen and Derek. So very well deserved. Like I have said from day one, this show is a master at manipulation, and I cannot stop watching it. Thank you for another entertaining season. It will be hard to top this one, but I have a feeling you will find a way. Thank you again to Tom Bergeron, for reading and supporting these reviews, and even throwing me a few comments along the way. You are truly a class act. As for everyone who has read my reviews on this show, it has been a pleasure writing them for you; and I look forward to seeing you VERY soon for my next reality-show review adventure. Although it’s not set in stone yet, here is a hint: SEACREST! (Okay, that’s a pretty big hint…)

Until then … please enjoy watching people you have never heard of in your life fall on their ass, on the new DWTS spin-off Skating With the Stars.

Yeah right. As if anyone is going to watch that crap.

Need more Dancing With The Stars?  Read Liz Cooper‘s opinion about the finale, “My Calls Won’t Go Through,” here.

Season 11, Week 10: Season Finale and Winner Announced (originally aired November 22 and 23, 2010)

For more on Dancing With the Stars, click here.

Mondays at 8/6c, Tuesdays at 9/8c, on ABC.

Photographs courtesy of ABC, Adam Larkey.

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